Marc Andressen famously said that, “software is eating the world.” The saying has quickly become somewhat of an infamous trope in the world of startups. But — he wasn’t wrong.
Software as a Service (or Saas) is seemingly everywhere and embedded in everything. It might be embedded in that checkout button you click when shopping on Shopify-powered sites. It could be behind the contract you sign digitally on DocuSign's platform.
Everyone has their favorite piece of SaaS. It’s a great thing for startups and the world in general, but managing the SaaS madness as a company has gotten out of hand. Cledara, our guest this week, is stepping in to save the day. Or at least the countless hours spent managing said SaaS madness.
We sat down with Cristina Vila Vives, Chief Executive Officer at Cledara, an all-in-one SaaS Purchasing and Management Software platform. Cledara helps companies manage, control and automate their SaaS so that they can scale operational processes, comply with regulations and save money.
Check out our three key takeaways below from our conversation with Cristina.
1. Find a Big Problem Being Solved with a Spreadsheet
Some of the best business ideas come from painful manual processes run in spreadsheets.
As Head of Business Operations at DoPay, Cristina was charged with managing the software stack. Not only making buying decisions, but tracking who had what software, how many seats they had, ensuring no duplication, so on and so forth.
“When we were smaller it was manageable...but as teams started to separate and grow, I ended up with systems that I didn’t use, but I had to manage.”
In the end, DoPay did the same thing that so many other companies did at that time. They started a spreadsheet to track their SaaS.
Cristina was officing at Level 39, a startup hub and co-working space in London at the time. She asked the other companies working around her about how they were solving their SaaS problems and they all had the same answer as DoPay.
Seeing that so many innovative companies were managing the issue with an old fashioned spreadsheet gave Cristina the confidence to leave DoPay and start Cledara.
2. The Bring Your Own SaaS Revolution
We covered the wave of “bring your own device” that transformed the workplace in our episode with Riddhiman Das, CEO at TripleBlind. We’re now in the world of “bring your own SaaS.”
“Every time someone came, they brought a piece of software that they really enjoyed at their previous company,” Cristina explained. “That actually affected the company negatively and it’s a pity because it was a great enabler and all those frictions are what planted the seed for Cledara.”
Many companies were founded to enable the “bring your own device” revolution at work. The same is already happening in the age of “bring your own SaaS.”
3. Stay Customer Obsessed
One key trait that Cristina has kept throughout her career is customer obsession. From her time in Egypt doing customer discovery for DoPay, to talking to every single customer in the early days of Cledara, customer obsession has been a core focus of hers.
Even as Cledara has grown from one hundred to two hundred to three hundred customers, Cristina still does everything in her power to talk with customers as often as possible. Obviously, she can’t speak to every single customer that onboards, but she stays in very close contact with her customer support lead.
They talk every day and “if there is interesting feedback, things we haven’t heard before, or a new customer profile that’s slightly different, then I ask to set up a call with them,” Cristina explains.
One of the other things that Cristina is hearing from customers is to “come to America!” Cledara has existing customers outside the United States that are dying to use the product in the US and a litany of other companies chomping at the bit to use Cledara in the States.
Soon, Cledara will be the only seed stage company to be able to operate in the UK, Europe, and the US. Stay tuned, more to come in episode two with Cledara...
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